Girl on the Bridge

Patrice Leconte's Girl on the Bridge chronicles the strange relationship between Gabor and Adele, a knife thrower and his assistant. Adele (Vanessa Paradis, Elisa, Un Amour de Sorciere) is a drifter, wandering from place to place and boyfriend to boyfriend. Gabor (Daniel Auteuil, Lucie Aubrac, An Interesting State) meets her as she is about to jump off a bridge. He offers her something new; a chance to be his assistant. He tells her that in his old age, his knife throwing is erratic. In essence, working with him can also kill her. She agrees, and they begin a relationship unlike most others.

They are not lovers, although Adele is clearly infatuated with Gabor. Sometimes they are like siblings, other times, Gabor is like a master. It is also not clear how Gabor truly feels about Adele. He cloaks his emotions and lack of finances away from Adele while spending liberally on her. He acts as the means for her rehabilitation. Leconte's (Ridicule, Une Chance sur Deux) use of crisp black and white gives the film a dreamy, unreal quality. As Gabor and Adele spend more time together, they develop a strange bond that writer Serge Frydom treats as completely normal. They can seemingly sense each other's thoughts, becoming closer than if they were lovers. Although they are not, Girl on the Bridge is still erotic. Adele can only truly connect with Gabor through his act, and the act itself becomes a sort of intercourse. Coupled with the constant threat of death, Adele completely loses herself in the act. At the same time, Gabor is also using Adele. She is the reason for his newfound success, and in a way, she is also healing some of his inner wounds just as he is doing for her. What Gabor does not realize in his time with Adele is how much she means to him.

One unexpected element in Frydom's story is the humor. Because Adele is so naive, she is continually getting herself into problems, most of them of the male variety. It is amazing that she continually gets herself into the same situations without ever learning from her mistakes. Gabor is also a reluctant father figure, teaching Adele about men and when to say no. Although this movie is about a near-suicidal drifter, these moments do not seem out of place. They highlight tender moments between Adele and Gabor, which serve to strengthen their relationship. The annoying thing about Girl on the Bridge (well, the American version) is the subtitles. Subtitles are an essential part of every foreign movie, but white subtitles in a black and white film? This decision leaves small portions of dialogue obscured to audiences.

Mongoose Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 32 minutes, French with English subtitles, black and white, Rated R for some sexuality.

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